Comprehensive Approach to Safety and Well-being in Learning Environments

Association for Learning Environments (A4LE)

1 LU / HSW

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced entities worldwide concerned with education to rethink the creation of productive learning environments while addressing the health-related concerns of learners, parents, educators, and staff. After 12 months of social isolation, we have all experienced how deeply dependent we are on positive social interaction to maintain physical and mental wellbeing. In the summer of 2019, a group of architectural facility designers, educators, educational researchers, and psychologists from around the world conducted a “safety and security in schools” workshop in Mexico. The group concluded that the safety and wellbeing of learners must be addressed comprehensively in all three dimensions of human existence: The physical, the social and the psycho-emotional environment. After 18 months of global collaboration, the group is ready now to present their pathway for the implementation of this comprehensive approach. With case studies from Ecuador, Honduras, New Zealand, Spain, Brazil, Canada and the USA, the strategies are built upon the most current professional research and thinking for each environment. This approach is relevant now for two reasons:

  1. In the post pandemic world of learning, mitigating the long-term effects of social isolation is essential for the successful transition of adolescent learners, away from fear-based social encounters, returning back to the development of social skills, friendships, and emotional stability within the school community.
  2. With the recent progress made in moving away from the traditional “cells and bells“-organization, safety strategies must be adopted to fit the reality of a much more fluid learning environment. Physical features such as open floor plans, transparency and program flexibility have rendered many traditional safety protocols impractical. Presenters can conduct the workshop in English and Spanish if desired.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn from architects, educators, psychologists, and researchers about the impact of the physical, social, and psycho-emotional environment of safety and wellbeing.
  2. Utilize technical insights regarding a comprehensive approach to safety and wellbeing in schools.
  3. Develop design strategies for the physical school infrastructure supportive of improvements to the social and psycho-emotional environment.
  4. Apply tools to evaluate the level of improvement in school climate.

Rene Berndt, AIA, LEED AP, Associate Principal, Mahlum Architects, Inc.
Associate Principal at Mahlum, Rene has 28 years of architectural experience and has presented his research about the impact of the physical environment on the process of learning at conferences and workshops, both locally and internationally. His work has been featured in numerous design publications, including Architectural Record, and he has been recognized with diverse regional, national, and international design awards. Rene is a registered architect and former AIA and A4LE board member.

Carlos Gutierrez Vera, Architect, Psycho-therapist, Specialist in Complementary Medicine
Carlos is an architect, psycho-therapist, specialist in complementary medicine and Bioneuroe-moción specialist. He obtained his degree in architecture from University of Chile. He is also a co-author of the first CPTED manual in Latin America, developed guidelines for application of CPTED methodology, including psychosocial approaches, in the planning of school spaces. Carlos is currently a Senior Technical Advisor for the CONVIVIR Program in Honduras and on the ICA Board of Directors.

Fleur Knight, Educator, Orewa College, New Zealand
Fleur is an experienced educator who created a program that integrates SafeGrowth® into the New Zealand teaching curriculum. She teaches educators and learners how to improve safety in schools and the wider community. Fleur explains how collaborating youth with government departments and local citizens can generate community solutions to safety issues while examining the short and long term effects of neighborhood activation, action based practice on academic achievement, and community involvement with youth. 

Association for Learning Environments (A4LE)

LearningSCAPES 2021

October 14-17
Hyatt Regency | Denver, CO